Elizabeth Pulford talks about Broken

  • What inspired you to write Broken?
Several years ago I started a novel for younger children (two chapters) where the brother was missing and the sister knew he was in one of his comics (this was long before graphic art became popular) and then for some reason I left it. When I came across it three years ago I still liked the idea, but wanted it to be more than ‘just an adventure inside a comic,’ and I wanted it for older readers. So I pulled it out and started work. Or should I say I sat at the computer wondering how to make it into something different than I had ever done before. Slowly, slowly it began to happen. Then Trace appeared and when she did I knew she was talking to Zara in a coma. That was the turning point for me.
  • There are several different threads of the story; what is happening in the hospital room, Zara’s search for her brother, and Zara’s memories.  Did you write each of the threads separately and piece them together or did you write the story from start to finish?
Every day the story came to me in what felt like different pieces, but the end result is how they went down, were written at the time, bar editing etc. The truth was I just had to trust the writing process. I had no ‘map’ for the book, no preconceived ideas of what I wanted, or how it would turn out. I just simply carried on with my daily writing of ‘sections’ and followed the ‘threads’ and thankfully as the novel grew all the bits and pieces somehow it all fitted together.
  • Zara has a strong relationship with her brother, who she feels she can share everything with. Is the character of Jem based on your brother?
Goodness me – no! We are good friends, but beyond that…!  However, I did lose a brother when I was very young and he was even younger. Maybe the subconscious held onto that and allowed it to surface for this novel.
  • The style of the story is really unique. Why did you decide to tell parts of the story through Jem’s favourite comic?
It was there right from the beginning, as I said, when I started the book as a junior novel, at least ten years ago now. I just thought it would be fun and interesting to have someone believing that they were in a comic. In the world of make believe anything is possible, which is what I love about writing.
Elizabeth Pulford’s new YA novel, Broken, is out in Australia and NZ now.  You can read my review of Broken here on the blog.

Broken by Elizabeth Pulford

When I first read about Elizabeth Pulford’s new book, Broken,  I thought it was an intriguing idea: the story of a girl trapped in a coma, interspersed with comic-style panels.  After some initial confusion about what was happening, I became wrapped up in the three strands of the story and got drawn in to Zara’s mind.

Critically injured in a motorbike accident, Zara Wilson lies in a coma. She is caught between many worlds: the world of her hospital room and anxious family, and that of her memories and a dream-like fantasy where she searches for her brother Jem. Jem proves elusive but Zara s adventures in her subconscious unlock dark secrets of a troubled childhood. Zara must face up to her past in order to accept her future.

Broken is unlike anything I’ve read before.  It’s a mystery, a family drama, and a touch of fantasy woven together to make a dark, slightly unsettling story.  There are three strands of the story that Elizabeth weaves together: the hospital room where Zara’s physical body is lying, Zara’s memories of her family and the thing that happened to her when she was seven, and Zara’s search for her brother inside his favourite comic.  This sounds slightly confusing (and it is to start with) but once you get used to the story jumping between these strands you get caught up in it.  Angus Gomes has created the comic-style illustrations that are sprinkled throughout the book.  These illustrations help to tell the part of the story that is set in Zara’s brother’s comic.  Zara enters this comic world to try and find her brother, and she meets the heroes and villains of the comic who both help and hinder her search.  It’s while she is trapped in her subconscious that Zara is able to come to terms with what happened to her when she was seven and reveal the truth of what has happened to her brother.  

If you’re looking for a Young Adult novel that stands out from the crowd then try Broken by Elizabeth Pulford.

4 out of 5 stars